Empty Nest, Abundant Life

Nag Less, Pray More

Category: My Next Act (page 1 of 2)

New Month, New Outlook

I’ve always loved the first day of a new month.  It’s a day for changing calendars, for looking ahead to all the fun that the month promises, for receiving special “first of the month” coupons and emails, and for wiping the slate clean from last month.  I especially love November because I can say, “Thanksgiving is coming later this month,” and  “Next month is my birthday and Christmas.”   When I encounter a flawless, new month, I am empowered to forge ahead instead of paralyzed with embarrassment over the mistakes I’ve made or overwhelmed with too much to do.

May we all greet November with a spirit of adventure and gratitude!

Conclusion to Embracing Fifty

Before I began this series, I approached my 50th birthday with much hesitancy.  As I spent the entire month evaluating how I wanted to live my life in my fifties, my excitement grew.  The more I thought and wrote, the more my anxiety waned and my anticipation soared.   Now I can’t wait to leap into this new decade of my life.

The task of determining my values was not an easy one.  It took a lot of soul searching and frank honesty within myself.  I laughed and cried at my computer keyboard as I reflected on what I valued most and how I wanted to rest of my life to look.  I would highly recommend this activity to anyone who wants to be more intentional with how they live each day of the rest of their life.

Thank you so much for reading my 31 day series.  I hope it inspired you to consider how you choose to live the remaining days of your life.  I’d love to talk to you more about it and will answer all comments.   I wish each of you an amazing life!


This post is part of a  31 Day Blogging Challenge entitled Embracing Fifty.  Please click here  to find all the posts in this series.  You can find the work of more bloggers participating in this series here. You’ll be glad you did!

Loving Others Well

I can’t think of a single better way to use the rest of my life than loving others well.   Before my eyes are even fully open in the morning, I have already mumbled “I love you” to my husband and scratched one of the cats.  Before I get out of bed, I express my love to God by reading His Word, applying it to my life, worshiping Him, and praying for over 100 people.  When I spend this time with God, I find that He fills me to overflowing with love so I can’t help but look for opportunities to love others all day, from those closest to me to those I have not yet met.

Love can be expressed in so many ways.  We often thing of it as physical affection, but that is just one way to show love.  We can make time to spend with others in deep conversation.  We can do something kind for others.  We can encourage one another with our words.  We can let someone know we are thinking of them with a text message, phone call, or a gift.  Even a smile to the grocery checker or the person in the car next to you in a traffic jam can ease a burden and make someone feel special.

The current rhythm of modern American life is becoming so fast-paced and impersonal that stopping to unselfishly invest in another’s happiness seems unnatural.  So many days I fail at loving others well.  I get caught up in the rush of life and my own agenda that I view others as obstacles to what I need to do instead of high priorities.  It is only when I go to God to get refreshed in His love that I have enough to give others.

When I am no longer on this earth, I want to be remembered as someone who loved others well!


This post is part of a  31 Day Blogging Challenge entitled Embracing Fifty.  Please click here  to find all the posts in this series.  You can find the work of more bloggers participating in this series here. You’ll be glad you did!

Purpose

We all have exactly the same amount of time in each day, 24 hours or 1,440 minutes.   We also have a limited amount of time on this earth.  Each day, I’m getting a little closer to leaving this earth for heaven.  I have no idea whether today will be my last day here or I’ll live another 50+ years.   With that in mind, I am stating my intent to spend the rest of my days living life on purpose.

Determining the purpose of our life here on earth can be difficult when we are young.  As we get to know ourselves better, we see our strengths and weakness, figure out what we are drawn to and passionate about, and feel a greater sense of urgency to accomplish what we are set on this earth to do and to leave a legacy that will live beyond us.   We also learn to silence the critics easier, whether the criticism comes from those around us or our misconceptions about ourselves.

Summarizing my purpose into a succinct mission statement is tricky for me.   I have a blurry exposure what my purpose is to be but am slowly bringing that into focus through applying my circumstances and gaining wisdom.  The two biggest words that come into my mind when I consider my purpose are encouraging and teaching.  Sometimes these two purposes can overlap since so much of teaching is catching our students, children, spouses, and friends doing the right thing then urging them to continue in that direction.  I can encourage and teach almost anyone I come into contact with, whether they realize I am doing that or not.

What do you think your purpose is in life?


This post is part of a  31 Day Blogging Challenge entitled Embracing Fifty.  Please click here  to find all the posts in this series.  You can find the work of more bloggers participating in this series here. You’ll be glad you did!

Hope for the Future

One of my favorite Christmas traditions as a child was sitting next to our stereo cabinet listening to Lionel Barrymore’s portrayal of Ebenezer Scrooge on an album of Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol.   I loved the sound effects, the background music, the lively reading of the well-loved book, and especially Barrymore’s characterization of Scrooge.  I was a naturally fearful child, and the visits by each of the ghosts caused me to hide under a blanket for protection.  The most terrifying ghost to me was the Ghost of Christmas Future.  In fact, I can still remember the terror in Barrymore’s voice as he pronounced, “I fear you more than any specter I have seen.”   This was my first exposure to the word, future, so I always associated the future with anxiety and panic.

I’m learning that we can anticipate the future with great hope and excitement or we can dread it.  The choice is ours.  The future will inevitably contain both positive and negative elements.  I am assured that I will die in the future, unless Jesus returns before then.  I could choose to focus my life on that so much that it prevents me from living today to the fullest.  I can look forward to upcoming great times with loved ones, the addition of a new generation to our family tree, and the chance to grow and learn into my fifties, sixties, and seventies.   I can’t wait to see just how valuable my golden years will be!


This post is part of a  31 Day Blogging Challenge entitled Embracing Fifty.  Please click here  to find all the posts in this series.  You can find the work of more bloggers participating in this series here. You’ll be glad you did!

Change

My life has completely changed in the past ten years.  In October of 2007, I had two young teenagers living at home whom I was homeschooling full time, my dad was still alive and took a lot of my time and energy, I was still driving close to 100 miles a week in a minivan, we had different pets, I weighed close to fifty pounds more than I do now, and my good health was sporadic.  Now, just ten short years later, the kids have moved out, my dad and two pets have died, I drive less than 50 miles a week in a sporty Camry, and I’m in the best shape and health of my life.

It would have been ridiculous to refuse to accept the changes as they came.  I would have done my children and my husband a disservice if I refused to allow the kids to spread their wings and fly the coop.  I get much better gas mileage in my car than I ever did in my van.  I have energy to get up each day, thanks to my new exercise and diet habits.

I used to view change as scary and unwelcome, but it is inevitable.  I can deny it and resist it, but that doesn’t keep it from happening.  It just makes life harder for everyone.

In this new decade of my life, I will choose to embrace change.  My husband’s and my lives will certainly change this coming April when his job of nearly 27 years comes to an end.  Our children’s lives are changing as is our relationship with them.  We can grow and learn so much from change.  I don’t know all the changes God has in store for my life in the next ten years, but I will trust Him and look forward what is to come.


This post is part of a  31 Day Blogging Challenge entitled Embracing Fifty.  Please click here  to find all the posts in this series.  You can find the work of more bloggers participating in this series here. You’ll be glad you did!

Encouragement

All Christians have spiritual gifts, those special attributes that God has given them to help others.  I used to wish that I could be a great worship leader or a gifted evangelist or be able to prophesy or be a natural helper or be rich in mercy, but I haven’t been given any of these gifts.   My gift is encouragement.  It doesn’t look fancy and may not get noticed much in today’s world, but I like it.  I can use it in both the written word and the spoken word.   I love that the centerpiece of the word encouragement is courage.  I believe that encouraging words have the power to equip others courage to tackle the next task, to face their fears, and to continue when they feel like quitting.

I also need to encourage myself in the same manner and let the wise and affirming words of others spur me on to grow as a person even when I don’t feel like it.  I can’t think of a single situation that isn’t improved by encouragement, so I will increase doing so as I enter into this next decade!

 


This post is part of a  31 Day Blogging Challenge entitled Embracing Fifty.  Please click here  to find all the posts in this series.  You can find the work of more bloggers participating in this series here. You’ll be glad you did!

Peace

One of my favorite influences over my life is peace yet I often take it for granted until I feel the turbulence within my spirit that shows me that peace is not reigning in my life.  Peace is defined as freedom from strife or dissension; the freedom of the mind from annoyance, distraction, and anxiety; stillness; tranquility; or a state of untroubledness.  It cannot be achieved by rushing or striving, only by trust in my God who longs to guard my heart and my mind  with His peace.

I’ve always believed that achievement was marked by activity and busyness, but I am learning that the achievement of peace is one of the greatest achievements of all.  I need to train my mind to relax and move towards God’s peace instead of the clutteredness of the world.   Peace will be a vital component of my fifties and beyond!


This post is part of a  31 Day Blogging Challenge entitled Embracing Fifty.  Please click here  to find all the posts in this series.  You can find the work of more bloggers participating in this series here. You’ll be glad you did!

Acceptance of Current Circumstances

We have a limited amount of time each day and free will on how to spend that time.  We can waste it by pining away for the past, fretting about the future, or wishing away the life we have today.

Maybe our current life is not what we thought it would be.  I never thought  both my parents would die of cancer before I reached my 50th birthday, I would deal with so many health issues, or that  my husband would lose his job, yet all those circumstances are a part of my everyday life.  I can choose to allow the sadness and stress that these circumstances cause to keep me in denial and from moving forward in life, or I can accept those circumstances and trust that God will work them together for good.

I am confident that I will look back on this time in my life twenty years from now and see exactly how God used these parts of my life to grow me.   When I do catch myself slipping into a funk, I try to apply the Serenity Prayer each day, “God, please grant me the serenity to accept the things I can’t change, courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference.  Amen.”


This post is part of a  31 Day Blogging Challenge entitled Embracing Fifty.  Please click here  to find all the posts in this series.  You can find the work of more bloggers participating in this series here. You’ll be glad you did!

Mentoring Others

I have had the privilege of many mentors in my life.   My parents were my first mentors, followed by my teachers, spiritual leaders, and friends who are a few steps ahead of me on the journey of womanhood.  I would not be who I am without the time, energy, prayers, and help invested in me by each of these people.

The best return I can give others from their investment in me is to turn around and invest in others.  I don’t have to know everything to be a mentor.  In fact, it’s a relief to others to see that life is never without its struggles.  God has had me go through a variety of experiences so I could mentor others on similar journeys.  At this stage in my life, I am mentoring a group of moms at a mommy group at church, teaching preschoolers the joys of following Jesus, tutoring four third graders in reading at the local elementary school, encouraging others who have similar health conditions to my own, discipling a group of 2nd through 5th grade girls at church, and being an example to my own two children.

Mentoring others has brought me great joy, especially as I see those I taught go on to mentor others.   Who are you being called to mentor today?


This post is part of a  31 Day Blogging Challenge entitled Embracing Fifty.  Please click here  to find all the posts in this series.  You can find the work of more bloggers participating in this series here. You’ll be glad you did!

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